By Sophia Kirschenman

Nearly 1.3 million abortions occur each year in the United States, according to Planned Parenthood. Daniela Koenig and Anna Dasbach have responded to the increasing number of abortions by creating a local post-abortion support group to help women deal with the effects of the operation.

The first group met last Thursday, Apr. 5, and will continue to meet for six weeks. In May, new groups will form. There are very few post-abortion support groups in the nation, and these women are addressing a widely controversial subject.

Koenig, a John F. Kennedy University student and co-creator of the support group, believes that establishing this system is an important step and will help women openly express their emotions.

“Our goal is to provide a place for women where they can feel safe and supported,” Koenig said. “A place that is free of judgment or political agendas.”

Abortion often occupies the political spotlight, and Koenig believes ideological controversy overshadows the women who have gone through this experience. She believes that their concerns and feelings are rarely addressed.

“The quiet impact abortion has on the psychological life of the woman goes unheard,” Koenig said. “Due to the major controversy surrounding abortion, many women endure feelings of grief, shame, pain, anger, etc. alone.”

Koenig met Anna Dasbach last year through Family Services, and together they decided to begin the meetings. Koenig wanted to create this group after having previously co-facilitated a group for WomenCARE. Both Koenig and Dasbach have personally gone through abortions and have dealt with post-abortion emotions differently. They have been working for the last three months to establish this first group.

While Koenig’s abortion occurred in 2004, Dasbach had the procedure over 20 years ago. At the time of Dasbach’s abortion, social workers had to agree to sign a paper allowing women to get the procedure.

“I met with a woman whose main goal was to talk me out of having the abortion,” Dasbach said. “I was very clear that I was in no place to raise a child at that point in my life.”

After Dasbach convinced the social worker to sign her forms, she began to leave only to run into another woman who had met with the same social worker. This woman told Dasbach that she had been convinced to have a third child. According to Dasbach, the woman looked devastated and did not know how she would ever raise another child.

“I realized that I wanted to help women to be able to make empowered choices for themselves,” Dasbach said.

One student, who does not wish to be named, was pregnant in the beginning of her senior year in high school.

“I was really shocked and panicking,” she said. “I had taken a pregnancy test and my heart was just pounding and I was thinking ‘Oh my God, what do I do?’”

This student also recognizes the need for social acceptance and a support system of others who have been through similar circumstances.

“I think that [a support group] definitely would have helped because there are only so many people I can tell and they can’t really understand because they’ve never been through it,” she said. “Even now it would definitely still be helpful.”

Koenig and Dasbach have high hopes for their group’s future. They believe that it will provide an ideal setting to help women of all ages deal with their emotions, regardless of when they experienced abortions.

“After our first meeting I am even more convinced about the importance of the group,” Dasbach said. “Many women often times do not know how deeply the abortion will affect them and how much the support of others who share the experience can help them deal with their loss.”

_For more information about this post-abortion support group or other groups hosted by Family Services, contact Daniela Koenig and Anna Dasbach at (831) 423-9444, ext. 314._